"To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all."- Oscar Wilde
My love of writing can be traced back to my earliest memories. English was by far my favourite subject at school, as it was the only lesson that writing stories actually classed as school work. Most groaned at the thought. I celebrated.
A decade later, I'm still writing. The difference is, though, as a child I wasn't concerned with structure or plot. I didn't think about how well my characters were developing, or if the story made sense to anyone but me. It was the pure enjoyment that I took from bringing my stories to life that had me hooked. It was simple.
As grown ups, we tend to live pretty busy lives. We rush about from week to week, balancing jobs and finances, families and friends and somehow, still keep those ridiculous appointments that were squashed into the tiny gaps between. We are always pushing ourselves for more, yet rarely stop to smell the roses.
Is this you? Are you nodding your head? Well, then I have one question I'd like you to answer.
Have you discovered the simple joys of flash fiction?
"Flash Fiction- a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity."
Yes, that's it -- flash fiction summed up in a nutshell. But flash fiction can also be a stray thought, given life when the questions what if? and how? are asked. It can be the remnant of a vivid dream or a vague memory, moulded to reflect your deepest desires. It can be a quick scribbling on a scrap of paper. A lunchtime daydream that demands to be recorded, or a bite sized break from an otherwise mundane day.
If you 're new to the wonders of flash fiction, then I suggest that you give it a try. In fact, I'm so confident that you'll see something you like that I wrote a small book to give you a taster, and I'm giving it away for free.
So don't forget to live every once in a while. Because life is passing is by every second and it's not slowing down.
Click here to check out the book.
IT'S ONLY natural to want to stop when things gets tough. Because, let's face it -- putting yourself out there isn't easy. When you put your hard work and honest opinions online, people can judge you based on that work. They can tell you that you're wrong. Or that what you've got to say isn't valuable in any way. Or make you feel small.
The thing is, we crave attention for our work, but when people start noticing you it can make you feel vulnerable. But being vulnerable isn't always a bad thing. In my personal experience, when you're beginning to feel uncomfortable, when you catch yourself thinking that maybe this wasn't for you after all, that is normally when you're on the verge of something awesome.
However, there's a difference between having healthy misgivings about something, and being so far out of your comfort zone that you want turn and hide in a deep comfy hole for the next decade. One works on the basis of logic, the other feeds off of your insecurities and weaknesses. We all have them.
You see, it's difficult to picture those big changes when you haven't actually experienced them. That's what makes hindsight so valuable. You can look back and think, yes, I was on the path to greatness. Silly me. But until then, it's sheer blind faith that keeps you chipping away on that project every day, despite that crippling doubt.
Alright, that was a little cynical. It's not only blind faith. But faith does play a huge part in getting us through those uncertain times. Faith and hope.
When setting a target, it's important not to aim too high. However, it's just as important not to aim too low, either. The idea of a target is that you work towards a goal that is slightly out of your reach. By making things too easy for yourself, you're not allowing yourself much space to grow and improve. Set it too high, and you're more likely to become discouraged and give up. You're only human, after all.
I've come to the conclusion that change is supposed to be uncomfortable. When you throw yourself into the deep end, there are two possible ways in which you will react. You will either:
In order to lean how to swim, though, we must put ourselves outside out comfort zone. Give ourselves the chance to learn and adapt. Because the magic of change is that if you stick at it, even through that crippling doubt, that one day we will discover that we have grown to fill that large, scary space.
The change becomes the new comfort zone.
What do you think?
I've been there a lot this past year.
You're on a roll and it's all going so well. Until, you stop to consider how well you're doing. And wonder how you can keep it up for the rest of the week. And how much more you have left to do.
Suddenly, it's there, large and looming -- that bully writer's block. And it's laughing in your face. "Get nice and cosy," it grins. "We're going to be spending a lot of time together."
Okay, so your writer's block may not be quite so rude. But none of us like being there. No one does.
Wouldn't it be great, though, if you had a ready made list of ways to eliminate that pesky problem in a jiffy?
Well, my friends, keep reading, because that's exactly what I'm going to give you. My top 6 ways to kick writer's block to the curb.
1/ Do more research
For me personally, writer's block occurs most often when I'm lacking information (although this is only obvious in hindsight!) If you’re writing a story, this could be a key piece of the plot, or information about a specific character, or something that sheds light on a part of plot you didn’t even realise was missing. If you’re writing an article or other non-fiction piece, it could be that you haven’t done enough background research for your project. Whatever you are working on, not having a full picture will hold you back, whether you're aware of the problem, or not.
When writing a fiction first draft I tend to just wing it. I don’t know where I’m going, but I trust the muse to figure it out, piece by piece as I go along. The problem with being a pantser, though, (see the age old pantsers vs plotters debate) is that at some point, you will inevitably hit a solid brick wall. Now, you could call it writer’s block and wait for the problem to go away by itself. Or, you could do some digging. Ask yourself questions. Do some brainstorming and make odd connections. What happens next? What if the last thing I expect to happen next, happens? I’ve learned through experience that on many occasions, what I would once call writer’s block can be easily solved this way.
Sometimes, though, you just don’t know the answer yet. And if you’re really truly stuck, then the worst thing you can do is stew on a problem. In this case, the best thing you can do is move on. Try not to stress too much over one particular element of a project. You can always go back to it at a later date.
2/ Switch to handwritten
There's something magical about good ol' pen and paper. It's underrated and now commonly seen to be the outdated method of writing, what with so many other, simpler options available to us. But the truth is, there's much more to it than that. You may not believe me. That's quite okay. I urge you to try it yourself and find out. After all, it's natural to think, 'aren't I just making more work for myself, having to type everything up again at the end of the day?' Maybe. But would it be worth it if the words flowed like water in a tap?
Handwriting is a sensory experience. There's the feel of the paper brushing against your hand, the smell of the paper. The weight of a good pen resting between your fingers. Maybe even the smell of the ink on the page, depending on what kind of pen you use. When you write a word down on paper, you are far more likely to commit it to memory than if you had simply typed it on a keyboard. And then there's the fact that it forces the brain to slow down and really think about the content you're coming up with.
3/ Skip straight to the good parts
Have you ever thought to yourself, "This scene/subject really needs to be in this piece. So why, oh why can't I bring myself to write it?" I know I have. You have a specific thing in mind. You have vision. And yet, you've still reached the point where each word feels like a single trickle of blood squeezed from a paper cut in your finger. And you need a damn bucketful.
(Do you feel queasy? I'm sorry. #notsorry)
It can be difficult not to fixate on specific areas that feel important to us, especially when we think it's where we need to be. But if you're going nowhere fast and the words just won't flow, it may be time to put that pesky scene on hold. Go back to your project's roots. What made you want to write this piece in the first place? How did that initial idea make you feel? If a specific part or scene makes you feel excited to write, start there.
4/ Do something equally creative
Being ambitious is not a bad thing. But it’s all too easy to forget that we're human beings with both physical and emotional limits. Occasionally, we expect too much of ourselves. When we pump our creative wells dry (see 31 Ways to Reinspire the Muse, Parts 1, 2 and 3) it often has the opposite effect and, very quickly, we can become creatively blocked.
As a direct result, our writing suffers. In other words, our efforts fail to match the expectations we have set for ourselves. Now, you could take a step back, accept that writer’s block has sunk its overgrown talons in and will only let go when it’s good and ready. Or, you could work on something equally creative while you wait. Do a finger painting, make a collage, write a diary entry. Do something that you won’t take too seriously and can have a little fun with. A creative splurge, so to speak. And it doesn’t even have to have anything to do with writing. Trust me, you’ll be amazed at the difference a change in attitude can make to that brick wall.
5/ Emotionally commit yourself
Sometimes, it's fear that holds us back. Yes, you're clearly committed to your project. You're reading an article on shifting writer's block. You're being proactive. But I don't just mean physically committing yourself to spending time on your chosen piece, or the act of working towards a specific goal. I'm talking about emotionally committing yourself.
"No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader" -- Robert Frost
For example, the novel I'm currently redrafting, Crimson Touch, began life in one of the darkest periods of my life to date. In order to revise this book and take it to the next level, I had to revisit those demons years after they were put to bed, and embrace the negative emotions attached to the words. This held me back for a long time. But once I'd committed myself both physically and emotionally, signing up for the full package, I smashed those barriers.
Was it hard? Yes.
Was it worth it? Absolutely.
My point is, fear often holds us back from giving our best. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of the unknown. But unless you start taking some risks, you'll never quite live up to your own high expectations. After all, failure is proof that we tried. Rejection is proof that we put ourselves out there, despite being advised not to. And the unknown? Well, it's only unknown for as long as we avoid it.
6/ Push on regardless and refuse to give in
Sometimes, you just have to push through writers block. Sometimes, there are no short cuts or quick fixes. If all else has failed you, then it may be time to simply knuckle down, despite any discomfort you feel and write anyway. Write anything. It doesn't matter if what you write is bad. It doesn't have to be something you keep. It doesn't even have to be seen by anyone but you, as its purpose is purely to keep the words flowing. You may find that just the mere act of writing, even when the words don't come so easily, will help to shift that mental blockage.
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THERE'S SOMETHING euphoric about watching the last remaining seconds of the year ticking away. The world waits with bated breath. The clock strikes midnight and suddenly, a brand new year sits in its place.
Now, a whole year packed full of dreams and potential awaits you. Beckons you. The clean slate, so to speak. And in that single moment you feel as though you can be whoever, or whatever you want to be.
It’s that feeling that I want to carry with me throughout the year. But why does that magic seem to fade? Do we change our minds halfway through the year? Is it the idea of having to work really hard to achieve those goals that puts us off? Or do we simply get distracted by other, shinier things?
The following were my new years resolutions for this year:
I posted them on my (old) blog, told everyone I knew and genuinely went into 2016 with every intention of getting this done by the end of the year.
I'm still going with revision. Because of this, I haven't prepared anything to submit to literary agents. And the reading? Well, lets just say, mission not accomplished.
The year before, I smashed my goals. I wrote an entire novel. I was pretty damn pleased with myself for it and it was a big accomplishment for me.
So, what happened?
YOU SEE it all the time. If you want to be a writer, then you must sit down and write.
It seems to be the number one piece of advice that all experts provide. Write every day, whether you feel like it, or not. But if you’re not an expert and writing isn’t your main source of income, this advice can seem quite daunting.
Every day? I once thought this to be an impossible ask. What about my day job? My family and friends? What about when I’m feeling tired or unmotivated? I can’t do it.
Well, I'm here to tell you that it certainly can be done. Present day, I try to write at least six out of seven days a week and today, I’m going to share with you my top ten tips for getting into a daily writing routine.
[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF CHECKLIST!]
1) Set small goals. If you try to accomplish too much too soon then every time you fall short, it will put you off. Even if you only write for five minutes a day, consistently, you’re doing it!
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2) Do something every day for thirty days and a habit will start to form. It will slowly become a part of your daily routine. For example, write for five minutes at the same time every day. This could be first thing in the morning before you get out of bed, last thing at night or alongside your mid-morning coffee.
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3) Don’t focus so much on quality or content at this stage, but on quantity and consistency. The important thing when first starting out is that you simply hit those goals. Stressing over each and every syllable so early on is the wrong way to encourage writing activity, but the right way to put you off writing completely -- maybe even for good!
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4) Create a reward system to encourage daily writing activity. This is a great way to inspire a daily writing routine, especially when you don’t feel like writing. For example, your reward for Monday could be a glass of wine at the end of the day. Your reward for Tuesday could be a nice slab of chocolate. Rewarding yourself when you succeed is a fun way to motivate yourself into following through with your daily writing.
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5) Do the work, then set it aside. Once you’re done, you’re done. And it’ll feel good knowing that you’re achieving those goals, day after day. There may come a time when you don’t need to dangle rewards over the goal post, or be so strict about how often you write to get the work done. But until then, treat each session as you would an appointment.
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6) Don’t get bogged down with having to write. If there’s no enjoyment in what you’re doing, your task can soon become a chore. At these early stages, it’s not important how you choose to complete your task, just that you do. Before you’ve even formed the habit of writing daily, it can quickly turn into hard work with the wrong frame of mind.
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7) Make sure you are writing for you. It can be something serious, or purely for your own enjoyment. Fiction, memoir, non-fiction, a poem, a story idea. But if you’re not enjoying it even a tiny bit, then you must ask yourself – why do you want to form a writing habit? Do you like writing, or just the idea of being a writer?
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8) Go with your whims and passing fancies. Want to write a poem? Write a poem. Into short stories or flash fiction? Try your hand at making your own. Have a blog? Want one? Take your thoughts to the world wide web. You don’t have to be good at something to create it.
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9) Hold yourself accountable. For example, you could pledge to post something on your blog every day for a month. People will come to expect your daily post and if you don’t post on a particular day, it’s not just you that will know this. Some of us flourish under pressure, or benefit from that extra nudge that keeps us on track.
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10) Get people involved in what you’re doing. If you don’t want to post online every day, find a writing buddy, friend or family member to hold you accountable instead. This way, on your worst days where you would rather do the dreaded housework than write, you have someone to remind you that actually, you do need to grab that five minutes and yes, it is important after all.
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Okay, still with me?
That's great. I knew you would be. That was a lot of information to take in in one go, so allow me to summarise the ten main points for building a daily writing routine:
Enjoyed this post? Well, my friend, I've created a spiffy bonus, just for you. If you haven't done so already, click below to grab your free bonus checklist to help keep you right on track.
[CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF CHECKLIST!]
When the opportunity to review Darren Dash’s latest novel presented itself to me, I snatched at it with eager grabbing hands. Having enjoyed his previous book, Sunburn, Dash had already proved to me that he’s not afraid to go in hard and fast, taking his writing to places that the average writer fears to tread. This book is no different.
I won’t be recommending this book to my mother, as An Other Place is far from a crowd pleaser. I was advised by the author before I began that this may not be my cup of tea. And that would be okay. But by golly, this book really did blow my mind. It stretched my imagination in weird new ways, made me think, sent me soaring and then crashing back down to earth (ha! Inside joke) with one hell of a bang.
An Other Place treats you to deep point of view, giving the reader an intimate seat inside the mind of troubleshooter Newman Riplan. When Riplan is transported to a strange fantastical world, both him and reader are kept in the dark as he explores. Being limited to experiencing only what our protagonist goes through makes this journey all the more effective in its delivery.
In the beginning, we get a definite sense of a situation that’s spiralling upwards, but no real idea of what’s going on or what is coming. Much of the novel is disorienting in this way. I frequently found myself feeling as lost as the main character, feeling my way through the dark with a tiny light, not quite knowing what to expect. Each page turn was both chilling and thrilling in equal measure.
The main character is generally likeable, but far from perfect. In his worst moments I found myself
utterly repelled, and yet, he always managed to be compelling -- sometimes in all the wrong ways. My reactions to him as a character were varied, which I found refreshing.
What's more, An Other Place really appealed to my dark sense of humour and love of the bizarre. To sum this book up in three words, I’d have to go with ‘weird and wonderful’. Like a mystery slowly unravelling and tangling, it constantly kept me guessing.
Darren Dash masterfully manipulates the reader in his chosen direction, changing the mood and pace of the book at will with little to no warning. This made it difficult to put down. I found myself constantly wondering what could possibly happen next.
I really liked how truly demented this book is. The story gets weirder and weirder as you go along. I'd become used to being in one place and then the story would twist, leaving me disoriented once more. Each time you think that things can’t possibly get any worse, they do and you’re presented with a new level of worse.
Despite not agreeing with every decision our main character makes, he displays an admirable amount of grit and determination throughout which, in turn, allows us to maintain some sort of an emotional connection throughout the book. This, I feel, is very important.
An Other Place gets darker and more grisly as the story progresses, giving a haunting, eerie sense of isolation that seeps into your bones. I spent the majority of the story feeling like something is ‘off’, but was unable to put a finger on exactly what. As a reader, there is never a moment where you are truly relaxed and comfortable. The more I discovered, the more it made my head reel.
Overall, this has to be one of the strangest book I’ve ever read. Through its ups and downs, there always seemed to be an unsettling undercurrent buzzing away in the back of my mind. Towards the end of the book, the reader is rewarded with the answers to some secrets and certain mysteries are made clear. However, these revelations only seem to offer yet more questions which, once again, send the cogs of my mind spinning at high speed.
The conclusion to this strange tail left me with goosebumps, chilling in impact and meaning. I felt oddly pensive as I read the last sentence, unsure of exactly how to feel. Dash leaves the reader with lots to think about. I now want to start again from the beginning, reading with the hindsight and prior knowledge I have.
My overall score? 5/5!
You can grab yourself a copy of An Other Place from the links below in ebook or paperback format. Let me know what you think!
Last year, I had the pleasure of receiving an advance copy of Darren Dash's latest novel, Sunburn. With only the author's vague description, 'Bigfoot in Bulgaria' to prepare me, I eagerly jumped in with both feet, completely unaware of the sheer chaos waiting in the wings.
I discovered early on that this book has a serious case of one-more-chapter-itis. Sunburn is the kind of story that makes you want to read on into the night, despite having to get up early for work the next day. Reading away my precious sleeping hours, I had no idea how tense I had become until my phone pinged and I jumped out of my skin.
The elements of classic horror are very much present here, and at the core of every horror theme is the simple struggle for life. Darren Dash isn't afraid to go in hard with this or tread where other are afraid to go, with moments of dark humour providing light, albeit brief relief which I often caught myself smiling to. There is an underlying edge of something sinister building throughout the book. The tension increases like a slowly boiling kettle -- you know early in that at some point, it's going to reach boiling point. But not before its time.
My love of horror stems back to my childhood. Barely a teenager, I would sit alone in the dark, watching films that thrilled and tortured me in equal measure. There was something about that raw mix of adrenaline and fear that always kept me coming back for more. Sunburn gave me that same thrill, with Mr Dash taking no prisoners in this dark and compelling tale.
I immediately felt attached to the main characters, each interesting in their own way but very different from the other. The story also flows nicely, each transition feeling smooth and unhurried, yet pulling me ever onward. I often find when reading a good book, my attention splits at some point or other. Half my attention will be focused on the chapter I'm reading, the other half hovering somewhere near the end, mithering over how current events will effect the final outcome. But Sunburn held me firmly in the moment, demanding my full attention right to the very last page. Then, just when you begin to think you're safe, unholy bloody mayhem ensues.
Every now and again we gain insight into a primal mind, the mind of a somewhat sentient beast. What I found fascinating are the ethical questions that sprung to mind while reading from this unique point of view. Can a beast be seen as evil for carrying out basic instincts? Is is close enough to the human being to be compared to our murderers, killing for pleasure? Personally, I found myself fluctuating between the two throughout the book. However, by the time I reached the final quarter, there was no doubt in my mind about the beasts true colours.
The ending comes full circle in a satisfying, bitter sweet way that feels complete and not left dangling for the sake of it. Overall, I really enjoyed Sunburn and look forward to reading many more Darren Dash books to come. Just don't expect a gentle ride!
You can buy the book in physical or ebook format from your Amazon of choice. Enjoy!
WRITING HAS always been my go to place when life gets tough. I struggled a lot with my sweet sixteen and, looking back now, writing was actually one of the few things that helped to diffuse the self-destructive cloud that frequently converged around me.
But this post is not about me. This post is about you.
I felt overwhelmed the other week so, naturally, I began to write. This blog post is that result.
Why you feel rubbish...
Overwhelmed -- life has been a bit hectic lately. Even though you're not Superwoman (much to your surprise), your life often requires you to be many things to many people. As well as this, you're juggling a hundred and one different responsibilities that all need your precious time and attention. But that's okay, you're going to be awarded your red cape any day now. You can feel it. Or, at least, next week has to be easier. You hope.
Things build up over time -- those little things that you swept under the rug didn't go away. They're still there, hidden beneath a good, safe layer of 'out of sight, out of mind.' But now, there isn't much room left under the rug. And people are soon going to start seeing those lumps...
Stress and misfortune -- you're having a bad run. Illness, loss, debt. Maybe it's the stress of a good relationship turning sour. Or maybe you're haemorrhaging money and can't keep up with the bills. Despite being a rational person, it feels like the world is out to get you. Yes, Lady Luck owes you, big time.
Having no one to talk to -- we all need someone to talk to every now and again. Whether that be to discuss a festering issue, or simply to air out our frustrations from the day. But the people you'd normally talk to are busy with their own problems, or no longer around. Or maybe you find it difficult to open up to anyone at all. Either way, you're bottling and at some point, you're going to overflow.
Overachiever -- busy, busy, busy. You're always running late and there's never enough time to get everything you want done in the day. After all, life is too short to sit down and do nothing, right? But not providing yourself with adequate down time leaves you scraping the bottom of the barrel far too often. And we both know the quality of those last few dregs, don't we?
Stuck in a rut -- you've spent more time moping this week than actually sitting down to figure out what's wrong. You assumed it would be something you just snapped out of when you're ready, but in fact, it's become a bit of a habit. An unproductive one.
Feeling vulnerable, fragile -- your partner has a moan and you take it personally. Your boss pulls you up over something small and you have to fight not to fall apart. Things that you would normally take in your stride are hitting you much harder. This is because your life worn exterior has been temporarily replaced with a softer, more fragile skin. The cause, though, is less obvious.
Beyond your control -- powerless. That sensation of negative things happening all around you, despite your best efforts. You feel small, almost as though you're a small fish trying to navigate its way through a raging current -- in the wrong direction. Whether you want them to or not, bad things happen to good people. And it sucks.
Putting others first all the time -- helping people is what you do. In fact, people seem to be drawn to you, laden with all kinds of problems and woes. Of course, you always do everything in your power to help them out. Even if it means skipping your coffee break every now and then, or dragging yourself out after a long, hard day. That warm bath and glass of wine will still be there tomorrow. That is, if someone else doesn't need it more.
What writing can do for you
Declutter your mind -- as you go through life, your mind will inevitably collect its fair share of junk. And like a messy desk, it's almost impossible to find the one particular thing you need amongst all that clutter. So, how do you stop this from happening? That's right, by keeping a diary. Even if only for a week or two, dumping the small, trivial things down onto paper will do wonders for the cluttered mind. The important things will stick with you. Do this on a regular basis and you will find that not only do you have a much clearer head, but that all that useless junk is right there in writing, just waiting for you to pick through at a later date.
Make the invisible visible-- remember all that clutter you dragged from your mind and put down onto a blank page? Well, guess what -- it may not all be junk. The average passing thought is there one second, then gone the next. Lost to the depths of your mind, where sometimes, it festers in a dark corner. Small and unnoticed, but most definitely still there. Make time to read back through your previous entries. Your subconscious may be trying to tell you something. Maybe that you're unhappy with your current situation, or that you're pushing yourself too hard. Or maybe it's time to swallow your pride and make peace with that old, stubborn friend.
Take a proactive approach -- being able to see your problems isn't the only benefit to writing them down. Take everything that's bothering you, no matter how small each thing may seem, and write them all down in one list. Then work your way down the list, taking each problem one at a time. Find a simple solution for each and write it next to the problem in question. Now, not only have you made a great start on banishing those things that are dragging you down, but you also have a point of reference if you decide to come back to them at a later date.
Acknowledging a problem -- how are you supposed to fix a problem if deep down, you're still denying its existence? The short answer is, you won't. Now, it may be hard to accept the need for help, or that you have an issue that needs attending to, but try to think of your problem simply as a bump in the road; you can go around it, but only if you notice it in time to do so. When you don't, it will take you by surprise. It may even damage you in the process, but the only way to fix a problem is to first acknowledge it. You'll be surprised at the relief you feel from this alone. Your subconscious was never fooled. Write down your problem in as much detail as you can muster. Don't hold back or cringe at your own thoughts, just allow yourself to say what it needs to.
Simply unload -- sometimes, taking the opportunity to get things off your chest can make you feel lighter. Write a letter or draft a blog rant, for your eyes only. You can always decide to publish at a later date if you feel it will help others in your shoes. Also, recording your thoughts on a regular basis will help you to pick up on any unhealthy patterns, if there are any. Reading your entries back with hindsight can often provide some much needed clarity.
Speed up the healing process -- your brain is amazing. There has been so much uncovered about it and yet, science has barely scratched the surface of what the human mind is truly capable of. Take your subconscious, for example. After acknowledging an issue through the method of writing, your mind will immediately start to figure out what to do next. You may have dismissed it from conscious thought, but working away in the background while you get on with your life, is your subconscious mind.
Extra benefits -- The simple action of writing is therapeutic in itself. This fact is not well known, but it has been proven again and again through many different types of research. I'll say it again -- writing is therapy. Writing down your thoughts and feelings on a regular basis can boost your mood and lower stress levels. It can encourage you reflect on your life, both the good and the bad, and help you to move on from a particularly traumatic event. Fiction writing can also have the same positive effects, which I can personally vouch for.
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What are your personal experiences with writing?
IF YOU'RE anything like me, then you'll know what it is to struggle with time.
There are so many things that I want to accomplish. My first novel is mid-revision. I'm working on a collection of short stories, while maintaining a blog. There's also a tantalizing idea for a novella, just begging to be written, buzzing around in my mind. Not to mention those half-finished stories just sitting on my hard drive and the five dozen books on my to read pile. Phew!
Having a full-time job, though, takes up a lot of my time (after all, a girl's gotta eat).
So what do you do?
First of all, check out this blog post. Today's post is an extension of that. Or, if you can't be bothered to click away, check out these five MORE ways to make time for what you love -- writing. :-)
1. Make up lists -- I tend to be more productive when I'm working through a checklist. Not only does it give you a sense of accomplishment, but you'd be amazed at how much difference a little scrap of paper can make on a busy day. It can be hard keeping track of what needs to be done and when. Your poor multitasking brain can't possibly be expected to retain all the information it's fed. At the end of each day, take some extra time to list all the things you'd like to accomplish tomorrow. When you wake up the next day, you can then work your way down your list, leaving your mind free to focus solely (almost) on the task at hand.
Wunderlist is a great task managing app that you can use with pretty much any device. Using one account, it will sync to all your devices so that you never need be without your daily lists. I can also recommend Trello, which is what I've been using for the past couple of weeks. Of course, good ol' pen and paper will also do the trick!
2. Set realistic goals -- When you have unrealistic expectations, your productivity is only going to plummet. You know where you want to be, but there's so much to do before you get there. You can't seem to make yourself focus. You put it off, promising yourself that tomorrow will be a better day. But that day never comes.
Stop, and envision where you want to be. Take a step back and start mapping how to get there. Planning is the key here. You're not being productive because you're overwhelmed by the sheer size of your target. Break it down into manageable chunks and take it step by step. Remember- slow and steady wins the race.
3. Time Management -- It's your lack of time that is holding you back. Surely, you just need to wait until you have more time, right? Wrong. You will always feel like you need more time. The fact is, you will never get it. Stop waiting for the right moment and make the present moment work for you. Manage your time to fit more into your day. What inessential things can you cut from your day, or your week, to maximise your time?
4. Pre- activity rituals -- You finally have an hour to yourself. But getting into the right frame of mind when you're not already there can be hard. It doesn't have to be an uphill battle though. By having your own pre-activity rituals or routines, you can retrain your brain to work for you. Doing the same few things before you begin each session will help you get into the right frame of mind to write. It doesn't have to be much. It can be something as simple as making yourself a cup of coffee, or setting your work space in a certain way. Make a playlist of songs that get you motivated and listen to it for 30 minutes. What ever works for you. You may subconsciously already have one. Embrace it!
5. Take time off -- Finally, take time to refuel every now and again. It's okay to push yourself. Hell, sometimes the only way to get anything done is keep going after you hit your limits. But you can't do this indefinitely, certainly not without sacrificing quality. It's important to take a step back every once in a while. Take some you time. Read a good book, have a hot soak, treat yourself to a lie in instead of setting the alarm to work on that project. When you reach burnout, it can take twice as long to refuel than if you'd just stopped a little sooner.
Here's some food for thought -- you accomplish more when you enjoy what you do. Find your passion and stoke the fire at every opportunity. Do what you love; smile, laugh, always aim for more.
Never settle for anything less.
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This past couple of weeks, I've been listing the different ways you can re-inspire your muse. Today, I'm completing that list with the final eleven points.
Missed a post? Catch up with part one here and part two here.
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Author of bite-sized stories, with debut novel Crimson Touch out 2019.